Most adults around the world look to get their news from sources they trust. Yet, they overrate their savvy to spot fake news while other behaviors and attitudes make them prone to spreading disinformation. These are findings from a new global report called, “Trust Misplaced?” on the future of trust in media from Ipsos and The Trust Project. The collaboration also supports Ipsos’ latest issue of What the Future magazine on the future of truth and was presented at the Online News Association’s annual conference.
The reports find the disinformation risk is higher for Americans. In a two-part survey, 82% say they make sure that the news they read, watch or listen to comes from trustworthy sources. For U.S. adults, it’s 88%. However, adults globally are twice as confident in their own ability to spot “fake news” (58%) than they believe others can (30%). In the U.S., the ratio is 3:1 as 60% of Americans are confident in their ability to tell which news is fake but just 19% believe their fellow citizens can.
At the same time, despite widely documented fake news campaigns, only 57% of adults in the U.S. believe that other countries target people in their country with disinformation. The global average is lower at 46%.
The news we trust is prone to disinformation
People’s news habits also make them vulnerable. Globally, more than two-thirds of adults say they only access news they can get for free. Their top three news sources are from television (74%), social media (72%), and news websites (62%). Americans rely less on these sources than their global peers but in the same proportion with television (64%), social media (51%) and news websites (50%) as their top sources. People are most targeted by fake news online.
Importantly, those who agree with populist or nativist ideas are more likely to be exposed to disinformation. For example, global survey respondents who agree that “experts in this country don’t understand the lives of people like me” are more likely than those who disagree to only read news they can access for free (72% vs. 62%).
Plus, those who agree “we need a strong leader willing to break the rules” and those who agree their country “would be stronger if we stopped immigration” are more likely than those who disagree with those statements to trust news shared by people they only know through the internet (by 10 and 11 points, respectively). They’re also more likely to be confident that the average person can tell real news from fake (also by 10 and 11 points, respectively).
Truth and trust aren’t dead
These companion reports examine the ongoing narrative that trust and truth are dead. Instead, Ipsos research finds them each to be alive, important and more valued than ever. For “Trust Misplaced?” Ipsos and The Trust Project explored four key factors influencing the future of truth and trust in media: technological changes that affect how and where people get news, access and affordability of quality news, ongoing disinformation campaigns, and the extent of nativist and populist sentiment. The Trust Project news partners helped develop scenarios in each area to produce survey topics.
In addition, What the Future is based on data from four additional Ipsos surveys among U.S. adults and coupled with interviews with global experts on news, disinformation, media literacy and brand marketing. Armed with these insights both media and brands can feel more confident in how to combat fake news and identify the shared truths among their customers.